Magic: the Gathering is a collectible, fantasy-based card game, involving decks of at least 60 cards that you construct yourself. The basic premise is that you and your opponent are each given 20 life points to start. In a two-player game, the one who runs out of those 20 life points first loses. The game is about finding ways to protect your own life points while devising ways to take down the other player’s life points.
To Start: Find Your Preferred Way to Win
There are five basic “colors” of cards you can use to build your deck: White, Red, Green, Blue, and Black. Each color has a different philosophy of how to win:
- White is based on civilization and law/order, protecting itself and doing what’s “right” in order to win.
- Green is based on nature and resilience, regrowing after disaster or stampeding to conquer its foes.
- Black is based on gaining absolute power, using anything and everything as a resource to win.
- Red is based on passion and chaos, destroying any stumbling block quickly and instinctively.
- Blue is based on subtlety and intellect, involving out-thinking and out-maneuvering the opponent.
There are also Artifact cards (which can be used with any color) and Hybrid/Multicolor (blends of two or more colors). Some philosophies of winning work well together (Blue and Black, for instance, or White and Green), and some philosophies have a harder time working together (like Red and Blue, or White and Black).
Literally endless strategies are available to be explored–there’s something for every personality. If you like to win by simply blocking anything your opponent tries to do, there’s a strategy for you (Blue and sometimes White). If you like to steamroll your opponent with huge creatures that trample across the field, there’s a strategy for you, too (Green all the way). And if you just like to blow your opponent’s stuff up, there’s a strategy for you, too (Red and sometimes Black).
Modes of Play: It’s Not Just a Two-Player Duel!
Magic: the Gathering does involve one-on-one games, but that’s not the only way you can play. Multiplayer (three or more players) games are allowed–in these situations, the last player left standing wins. Also, there’s alternative forms of the game as well, generally meant for casual play:
- Two-Headed Giant (teams of two playing off against each other)
- Archenemy (one player is the “villain” while a team of three players are the “heroes”)
- Vanguard (special large-size cards with various characters from Magic lore are used to change up the rules of the game slightly)
- Elder Dragon Highlander/Commander (choose a Legendary creature as your “general” and build a deck around him/her)
- Mental Magic (pick up a card off a stack of random cards. You cannot play the card as itself–rather, you must play it as another card with the exact same cost. Requires lots of knowledge of various cards!)
For More Information
Visit MagicTheGathering.com for official product updates and informative articles; MTGSalvation.com also has lots of information on the history and lore of the game. I also have a website called The Gamer’s Repose, which has a fairly large Magic: the Gathering section featuring tips for beginners, and gameplay advice.